Selling a House in Winter vs Spring
While April and May are great months to put a home on the market, selling a house in spring is not the only option. The St. Louis area is still a seller’s market, which means buyers are out there all year long waiting for the right home to become available.
Following a few strategies can increase your chances of selling your home this winter and ending up in your new home before springtime.
Why Selling a House in Winter vs. Spring is Never a Bad Idea
There’s no doubt that buyers are willing to make a purchase any time of year. In fact, while 1,264 residential homes in St. Louis sold in December of 2022, only 1,189 sold in the area this past April. If the price point and size of the house are right, buyers are willing to move in frigid months. After all, job relocations, new babies, and other reasons to move don’t wait for nicer weather.
While selling a house in spring certainly has advantages such as being able to show off landscaping, selling a house in winter can also have perks. Realtors typically have fewer clients this time of year, so they have more time to dedicate to the sale of your home. And instead of just having nosey neighbors attending open houses while out for a stroll on a warm day, serious buyers will brave the cold to come see the house in winter.
We’ve compiled some tips for sellers who decide that wintertime is the right time to put their house on the market:
1. Impress Them with Curb Appeal
A lot of advice about curb appeal focuses on landscaping and flowers, but what can be done in winter? Plenty! First, make sure to clear away autumn debris like fallen leaves or dead plants. They can look bad, especially if snow mixes in with them. Be sure to clear walkways of snow and put down salt or ice melt. Investing in a landscape lighting system can also make a big difference on dark, blustery days.
And remember to consider all of your outdoor spaces when thinking of curb appeal. Patios and decks are a selling point in the spring and summertime. Keep them clear of snow and ice in winter too. Also, a fresh blanket of snow can make a house look really pretty. It might be tough, but try keeping the kids and dogs from trampling through it right away.
2. Create an Impressive Online Listing
Selling a house in spring means buyers are likely to see your home while cruising around with windows down. But in winter, they might not want to even change out of their pj’s until they see a home online that sparks their interest. Professional photos of every room are a must, and even better if your home is staged to sell.
Since cold-weather landscapes are drab, check your camera roll for snapshots of your house when the grass was lush and the trees and flowers were in full bloom. It’s okay if they’re not too recent, as long as things haven’t changed much. Including them will lend a view of what the property looks like without bare trees and a brown lawn.
3. Show Them How Cozy Your Home Can Be
When winter buyers walk in from the cold, they’ll want to know your home can keep them warm. Bump up the heat a few degrees and point out your new energy-efficient furnace. If there’s a fireplace, have it crackling, and let them feel the heated floors below their feet. Double-pane windows, insulated blinds, and weather stripping can also impress.
As a bonus, bake cookies just before showings for that warm, homey scent, and leave a plate on the counter to allow buyers to indulge.
4. Minimize Winter Messes
This is a big difference in selling a house in winter vs. spring. Especially if there are kids or pets in the house, it’s essential to keep the house clean, and the front hall free of melted snow. If you have carpet, consider borrowing a small carpet cleaner to eliminate any muddy footprints or pawprints. Also, make sure there are plenty of doormats for potential buyers to wipe their feet.
We all know how hard it is to keep winter coats, hats, mittens, and boots contained. Consider putting a temporary coat rack for the family’s winter gear in the garage or basement. It might be an inconvenience for now, but will keep entryways free of clutter and ready for showing.
5. Decorate for the Holidays, But Don’t Go Overboard
If you’re selling a house during the holiday season, keep the decorating low-key. Opt for a few tasteful decorations that go with your staging and leave the collection of 150 nutcrackers in storage. Focus on showing how fantastic your house is for entertaining and hosting guests. Set the scene for future holidays spent gathered around the kitchen island baking, and set the dining room table for a holiday feast. Prepare guest bedrooms with cozy touches to help them imagine the holiday memories they will make in their new house.
And be sure to keep outdoor decorating to a minimum with a simple wreath and a few red bows. You could even put a couple of small twinkling evergreen trees on the porch. Just be sure to skip the giant inflatable lawn decor until next year. It’s a small sacrifice to make the house show well.
6. Take Advantage of Open Houses
As we said before, selling a house in winter means the potential for more serious buyers. Winter open houses might only bring out a handful of people, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Anyone who comes out in person on a cold, blustery day is probably pretty serious, so be sure to make your home look its best for every open house you have. Your realtor will help with staging, which is almost always money well spent. It’s your job to keep it clean to impress those five or six determined buyers.
Especially during open houses, don’t forget those holiday scents to bring a sense of coziness. Offering warm apple cider or chocolate chip cookies will surely do just that.
7. Keep Your Calendar Flexible
While selling a house in spring means working around kids’ baseball schedules and school plays, selling in winter comes with its own scheduling issues. Your realtor might want to show the home when out-of-town guests are settling into their bedroom, or the morning after your big annual holiday party. If you’re serious about selling a home in winter, you’ll need to be prepared for those unexpected showings at a moment’s notice.
If that sounds stressful, consider letting someone else house your guests or throw the family party this year. And let them know that next year in your new home, you’ll be happy to host.
8. Don’t Underestimate a Great Agent
Real estate agents have all the tricks for selling a house in spring, winter, summer, and fall. Not only can a great agent make sure online photos will impress potential buyers, stage your home to look extra cozy, and welcome guests at your open house; they can also tell you how much to list your home for and even give tips on selling your home above listing price.
The bottom line is that any time can be the right time to put a house on the market. As long as you have the right agent, you can have just as much success selling a home in winter as waiting until spring.
If you’re considering putting your home up for sale, agents at BHHS Select Properties would love to help. Contact us today to discuss selling your home at a price you will feel good about.
Cover image by Serega by Getty Images Signature by Canva.com
Original piece published on October 6, 2020.
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